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Protests in Kazakhstan. Government dismissal. The president appoints a new acting prime minister and becomes the head of the Security Council

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President Kasym-Żomart Tokayev stated in a message to his countrymen that he had taken the position of the head of the Security Council. He promised to act with “utmost resoluteness”. Violent protests are ongoing in Kazakhstan, sparked by rising prices, including gas prices. The Reuters agency, citing witnesses’ accounts, said that demonstrators set fire to the Almaty town hall, as well as the former residence of Tokayev. Shots were heard on the spot.

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The Reuters Agency said Tokayev was in the capital of the country, Nur-Sultan, and did not intend to leave it. “It’s my constitutional duty,” he said.

The president spoke about casualties in the security forces and among civilians. – Criminal groups are beating our soldiers, humiliating them, dragging them naked in the streets, attacking women and looting shops – said Tokayev in a speech broadcast by television.

– The situation threatens the safety of all residents of Almaty. And this cannot be tolerated. Apart from Almaty, the situation is also escalating elsewhere, so I have declared a state of emergency in many regions, said the president. He has been in charge of the Security Council since Wednesday, he said.

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“As head of state and from today chairman of the Security Council, I intend to act with the utmost determination,” he warned.

The Security Council, an institution attached to the office of the president, coordinates activities in the sphere of security and foreign policy. This function was previously held by Nursultan Nazarbayev, who ruled Kazakhstan from its independence in 1991 until 2019, when he handed over power to Tokayev, while maintaining wide influence and leading the Security Council.

The removal of Nazarbayev from power was one of the slogans of the demonstrators.

Kasym-Żomart TokajewFELIPE TRUEBA / EPA / PAP

Occupied airport, town hall and former president’s residence

After Tokayev’s speech, the Reuters agency reported, citing its own sources, that protesters had taken control of the Almaty airport. All flights to and from the country’s largest city have been canceled. “Throughout the day, passengers were told that the military was protecting the airport, the planes were flying in normal mode. Now airport security has told us: Sorry, the airport has been taken. There will be no flights today,” reported the portal orda.kz, quoting blogger Alisher Yelikbayev.

Earlier, Reuters, citing witnesses to the events, wrote that the town hall was burning in Almaty. Shots were also heard. The Russian agency Interfax, in turn, reported that a group of protesters had attempted to break into the former presidential residence, located near the seat of the city authorities. Flames were bursting from the windows of the second floor of the building, you could see clouds of thick, black smoke – said the Interfax correspondent from the scene.

According to reports from the RIA Nowosti agency, the demonstrators took weapons, shields and sticks from policemen guarding the authorities.

Police in Almaty STR / PAP / EPA

The protesters, armed with sticks and metal rails, launched an attack on the municipal government building in Almaty on Wednesday morning. The police tried to disperse the crowd with tear gas and stun grenades.

“The largest cities in Kazakhstan are under attack by” radicals and extremists “who beat 500 civilians in Almaty, Almaty police chief Kanat Tajmerdenov said on Wednesday. He added that the army and the national guard were also directed to contain the protests that had lasted for two days. “The extremists” are also responsible for the sacking of hundreds of companies, said Tajmerdenov.

Earlier, Almaty city authorities reported that five ambulance workers had been injured “as a result of unlawful actions” and two ambulances had been destroyed.

Wednesday is another day of mass protests in Kazakhstan, which began with demonstrations against rising gas prices. Clashes with the police took place in Almaty and other cities on Tuesday. The President of Kazakhstan, Kasym-Żomart Tokayev, introduced a two-week state of emergency in Almaty during the night from Tuesday to Wednesday.

Police in the streets of Almaty STR / PAP / EPA

Resignation of the government of Kazakhstan

Earlier on Wednesday, Tokayev accepted the resignation of the government, his office informed. Alikhan Smailow, who previously served as the first deputy prime minister, was appointed the acting prime minister. The dismissal of the government was one of the demands of the protesters. Justifying it, the president blamed him for the destabilization of the economic situation in the country. He also ordered the prosecutor general to conduct an investigation into the collusion on prices of gas and fuel distributors.

Tokayev ordered the government on Wednesday to regulate the prices of fuels and other “socially important” commodities after the withdrawal of increases in the price of liquefied petroleum gas.

Protests against increases in gas prices

On Tuesday, the protesters expanded their demands and demanded a departure from the policy of Nursultan Nazarbayev, who, in their opinion, handed over power to President Kasym-Żomart Tokayev only formally.

The Reuters Agency and AFP said police used stun grenades and tear gas against hundreds of protesters who attempted to break into Almaty’s mayor’s headquarters. A series of explosions was heard near the town’s main square, where the town hall is located. According to preliminary data, over 200 people were detained there. Radio Swoboda also informed about the detention of two of its journalists.

Kazakh police during a protest against gas price increases in AlmatyPAVEL MIKHEYEV / Reuters / Forum

In the city of Aktobe in the northwest, drivers broke the cordon of police and approached the headquarters of municipal authorities. In Aktau – in the west – one of the squares was seized, demanding a meeting with Tokayev. The resignation of the government was also demanded in Karaganda in the east of the country. In the evening, the authorities began blocking the Internet and the mobile network throughout the country. Users have reported problems using almost all social networks, including Telegram and Facebook.

Rising prices of liquefied gas

On Tuesday evening, the authorities announced a partial reintroduction of the price limits for liquefied gas (to the price of 50 tenge, ie 46 groszy per liter in the Mangystau region). In January, the price of liquefied gas in Kazakhstan increased to 120 tenge (PLN 1.12) per liter, while at the beginning of last year it was 38 tenge (PLN 0.35) per liter.

PAP, Reuters, Interfax, RIA Nowosti

Main photo source: STR / PAP / EPA



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